-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that
women diagnosed with pre-cancerous cervical conditions after they
get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can still benefit from
the shot because it cuts their risk of future HPV-related cervical
"This study helps to clarify the effects of the HPV vaccine and further define its use," noted one expert, Dr. Elizabeth Poynor, a gynecologic oncologist and pelvic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Poynor, who was not involved in the new research, said it "is
the first to address the effect of the HPV vaccine in women who
have undergone treatment for HPV-related disease."
The study was published online March 27 in the
HPV remains the most common sexually transmitted infection in
the United States and can cause health problems ranging from
genital warts to cervical cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. HPV infection is thought to be the
leading cause of cervical cancer, and two HPV vaccines, Gardasil
and Cervarix, have received U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Previous research has shown that HPV vaccination does not
prevent progression to cervical pre-cancers in women who have an
HPV infection when they receive the vaccine.
However, this is the first study to examine if HPV vaccination
can prevent future cervical disease in these women after they've
been successfully treated for their current condition, the
researchers pointed out in a journal news release.
The study involved an international team of researchers led by
Dr. Elmar Joura of the Medical University of Vienna. The
investigators analyzed data from 1,350 young women in 24 developed
and developing countries who took part in two clinical trials in
which they received either the HPV vaccine or an inactive placebo.
The women were subsequently diagnosed with either a vulvar or
vaginal disease (including genital warts) or had required cervical
Among women who required cervical surgery after taking part in
the studies, the risk of getting a subsequent HPV-related disease
was 6.6 cases per 100 women per year among those who received the
HPV vaccine and 12.2 cases per 100 women per year among those who
received the placebo. This translates into more than a 46 percent
reduced risk for women who received the HPV vaccine, the authors
The researchers also found that the risk of pre-cancerous
changes of the cervix and other "high-grade" cervical disease was
almost 65 percent lower in those who received the HPV vaccination
than in those who received the placebo.
Among women who were diagnosed with and treated for vaginal or
vulvar disease, the risk of any future HPV-related disease was
about 35 percent lower among those who received the HPV vaccine
than among those who received the placebo, the study authors
Two other experts said the findings appear heartening.
"While questions remain on the design of the study, it offers another reassurance that the efficacy of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine as initial protection may extend to decreasing subsequent diseases after initial vaccination," said Dr. Linus Chuang, director of gynecologic oncology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
And Dr. Stephanie Blank, director of the gynecologic oncology
fellowship at NYU School of Medicine, agreed that the study
"describes potential further benefits of the HPV vaccine. HPV
causes cervical cancer but affects even more women by causing
cervical dysplasia [abnormal cell growth]." She noted that
"dysplasia, which itself is only dangerous due to its association
with cancer, results in multiple procedures, extensive health care
costs and patient angst."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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